Black Mamba Nkateko
Black Mamba Nkateko

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy
Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Zenzele
Black Mamba Zenzele

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Zenzele would like to be a field ranger one day. She also wants to get married. Her dream is to be able to support her mother financially, as well as her 11 year old son.

Black Mambas on patrol
Black Mambas on patrol

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba units regularly patrol more than 20km in one day. To try and stop rhino’s from being hunted to extinction, Balule head warden and founder Craig Spencer created the Black Mambas, specially trained, local women, who often come from the same community as the poachers, to patrol the reserve.

Grietjie Team
Grietjie Team

From left to right: Black Mambas Leitah, Lukie (background), Nkateko, Cute and Qolile, Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Nkateko (front) & Happy on hill top
Black Mamba Nkateko (front) & Happy on hill top

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Balule Nature Reserve is a protected area in Limpopo Province, South Africa, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park as a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR). As part of a wildlife conservation initiative, all fences separating APNR reserves- Balule, Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat, Grietjie and Kruger National Park have been removed.

Black Mamba Cute waiting for night patrol to start
Black Mamba Cute waiting for night patrol to start

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas patrol the reserve
Black Mambas patrol the reserve

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Grietjie Camp by night
Grietjie Camp by night

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas Leitah & Goodness with Qolile’s son Renold at home
Black Mambas Leitah & Goodness with Qolile’s son Renold at home

Hluvukani, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Leitah and Black Mamba Goodness play with Black Mamba Qolile’s baby son, Renold, Hluvukani, Manyeleti, South Africa, 2017. The Black Mambas are a close knit unit outside the reserve as well as inside. Several are related, or live in the same villages.

Black Mamba Loveness Pretty
Black Mamba Loveness Pretty

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Leitah with her son Clayton
Black Mamba Leitah with her son Clayton

Hluvukani, South Africa, 2017.

At home, Black Mamba Leitah and her son Clayton watch television. Many of the Black Mambas are single mothers, who only get to see their children for the nine days they are home on leave every month. Most children stay with relatives, or in communal houses that multiple siblings share.

Black Mamba Leitah cleaning her room
Black Mamba Leitah cleaning her room

Hluvukani, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy checking and reloading camera traps
Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy checking and reloading camera traps

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

The Black Mamba's approach, unarmed patrolling, might seem strange, even dangerous, but it’s clear the solution to poaching does not only lie in the use of heavily armed soldiers, drones and GPS locators.

Black Mambas meet
Black Mambas meet

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Lion tracks
Lion tracks

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Lukie
Black Mamba Lukie

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Lukie was unemployed and looking for a job when a relative told her about the Black Mambas.“Poaching is very bad. It is important that animals live. The next generation must know the rhinos and elephants in life. If poaching is allowed they will only see these animals in a picture. This is not right.”

Black Mamba Leitah
Black Mamba Leitah

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Leitah has a four year-old son who stays with her mother while she works in Balule for up to 21 days at a time. "I am strong, I am a woman and I bite like a Mamba!"

Black Mamba Thato
Black Mamba Thato

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Thato, 20 years old, joined in 2016. As one of several drivers, Thato is responsible for getting the patrols safely to and from camp, as well as transporting equipment between the camps, and is paid more than regular Black Mambas.

Impala horn
Impala horn

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mambas take a break
Black Mambas take a break

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Back to base
Back to base

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mambas waiting
Black Mambas waiting

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Mirren
Black Mamba Mirren

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Yenzekile & a dead kudu
Black Mamba Yenzekile & a dead kudu

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Yenzekile, a Black Mamba scout, reports the location and condition of a dead Kudu. The Kudu had been shot, although it was not clear by whom. When Yenzekile returned the next day, the kudu was gone. Balule consists of a number of smaller, privately owned parks, some of which allow hunting as a form of income for the park.

Black Mamba Proud (left) & Yenzekile with snares
Black Mamba Proud (left) & Yenzekile with snares

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Nomsa
Black Mamba Nomsa

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Nkateko checks the fence
Black Mamba Nkateko checks the fence

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Nkateko inspects a hole under a Balule Reserve fence for signs of poachers, Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015. It is not always clear who digs these holes. As well as poachers, various species of animals will dig under the fence to either get out of- or into the reserve.

Black Mamba Winnie
Black Mamba Winnie

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Full Moon Patrol
Full Moon Patrol

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Three Black Mamba’s, and their driver, use the light of a full moon to look for poachers from the top of their jeep. Full moon is when poachers are at their most active, making use of the moonlight to spot their prey. The Black Mambas use the same moonlight to hunt the poachers.

Black Mamba Felicia with flashlight
Black Mamba Felicia with flashlight

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Nkateko
Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy
Black Mamba Zenzele
Black Mambas on patrol
Grietjie Team
Black Mamba Nkateko (front) & Happy on hill top
Black Mamba Cute waiting for night patrol to start
Black Mambas patrol the reserve
Grietjie Camp by night
Black Mambas Leitah & Goodness with Qolile’s son Renold at home
Black Mamba Loveness Pretty
Black Mamba Leitah with her son Clayton
Black Mamba Leitah cleaning her room
Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy checking and reloading camera traps
Black Mambas meet
Lion tracks
Black Mamba Lukie
Black Mamba Leitah
Black Mamba Thato
Impala horn
Black Mambas take a break
Back to base
Black Mambas waiting
Black Mamba Mirren
Black Mamba Yenzekile & a dead kudu
Black Mamba Proud (left) & Yenzekile with snares
Black Mamba Nomsa
Black Mamba Nkateko checks the fence
Black Mamba Winnie
Full Moon Patrol
Black Mamba Felicia with flashlight
Black Mamba Nkateko

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Zenzele

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Zenzele would like to be a field ranger one day. She also wants to get married. Her dream is to be able to support her mother financially, as well as her 11 year old son.

Black Mambas on patrol

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba units regularly patrol more than 20km in one day. To try and stop rhino’s from being hunted to extinction, Balule head warden and founder Craig Spencer created the Black Mambas, specially trained, local women, who often come from the same community as the poachers, to patrol the reserve.

Grietjie Team

From left to right: Black Mambas Leitah, Lukie (background), Nkateko, Cute and Qolile, Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Nkateko (front) & Happy on hill top

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Balule Nature Reserve is a protected area in Limpopo Province, South Africa, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park as a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR). As part of a wildlife conservation initiative, all fences separating APNR reserves- Balule, Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat, Grietjie and Kruger National Park have been removed.

Black Mamba Cute waiting for night patrol to start

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas patrol the reserve

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Grietjie Camp by night

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas Leitah & Goodness with Qolile’s son Renold at home

Hluvukani, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Leitah and Black Mamba Goodness play with Black Mamba Qolile’s baby son, Renold, Hluvukani, Manyeleti, South Africa, 2017. The Black Mambas are a close knit unit outside the reserve as well as inside. Several are related, or live in the same villages.

Black Mamba Loveness Pretty

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Leitah with her son Clayton

Hluvukani, South Africa, 2017.

At home, Black Mamba Leitah and her son Clayton watch television. Many of the Black Mambas are single mothers, who only get to see their children for the nine days they are home on leave every month. Most children stay with relatives, or in communal houses that multiple siblings share.

Black Mamba Leitah cleaning her room

Hluvukani, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mambas Felicia (left) & Joy checking and reloading camera traps

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

The Black Mamba's approach, unarmed patrolling, might seem strange, even dangerous, but it’s clear the solution to poaching does not only lie in the use of heavily armed soldiers, drones and GPS locators.

Black Mambas meet

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Lion tracks

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Lukie

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Lukie was unemployed and looking for a job when a relative told her about the Black Mambas.“Poaching is very bad. It is important that animals live. The next generation must know the rhinos and elephants in life. If poaching is allowed they will only see these animals in a picture. This is not right.”

Black Mamba Leitah

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Leitah has a four year-old son who stays with her mother while she works in Balule for up to 21 days at a time. "I am strong, I am a woman and I bite like a Mamba!"

Black Mamba Thato

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Thato, 20 years old, joined in 2016. As one of several drivers, Thato is responsible for getting the patrols safely to and from camp, as well as transporting equipment between the camps, and is paid more than regular Black Mambas.

Impala horn

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mambas take a break

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Back to base

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mambas waiting

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Mirren

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Yenzekile & a dead kudu

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Yenzekile, a Black Mamba scout, reports the location and condition of a dead Kudu. The Kudu had been shot, although it was not clear by whom. When Yenzekile returned the next day, the kudu was gone. Balule consists of a number of smaller, privately owned parks, some of which allow hunting as a form of income for the park.

Black Mamba Proud (left) & Yenzekile with snares

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Black Mamba Nomsa

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2017.

Black Mamba Nkateko checks the fence

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Nkateko inspects a hole under a Balule Reserve fence for signs of poachers, Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015. It is not always clear who digs these holes. As well as poachers, various species of animals will dig under the fence to either get out of- or into the reserve.

Black Mamba Winnie

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Full Moon Patrol

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

Three Black Mamba’s, and their driver, use the light of a full moon to look for poachers from the top of their jeep. Full moon is when poachers are at their most active, making use of the moonlight to spot their prey. The Black Mambas use the same moonlight to hunt the poachers.

Black Mamba Felicia with flashlight

Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa, 2015.

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